Feeds

Ten top stories from Classic Doctor Who

The DVDs to watch to celebrate 50 years of Tardis travel

SANS - Survey on application security programs

The City of Death

Reg Hardware retro numbers

Picture a man reaching up to grasp the skin of his face... and pulling the flesh away to reveal a single widely open eye staring out of a mass of bright green seaweed. Yeah, on TV in 1979 it wasn’t how you picture it now, but that’s the defining image of the David Fisher written, Douglas Adams edited City of Death.

The being in question is Scaroth, last of the Jaggaroth, friend of the Buggeroff and fragmented temporally by his exploding starship. His solution: work with his many separate selves - they’re connected telepathically, kind of - to evolve the human race to the point at which it can develop time travel. Then he can go back and prevent the explosion. Easy.

Doctor Who: The City of Death

Fighting for the survival of a species: Jaggaroth vs humanity
Source: BBC

Except the Doctor figures out the explosion is the trigger that starts the human race by causing the basic building blocks of life to form and kick-start evolution.

It’s a great plot, driven along by Adams’ humour - he was working on the Hitch-hiker’s Guide radio series around this time - and its Parisian setting, for once shot for real rather than in mock-up. The Doctor and Romana have a laugh; their sidekick, Duggan, gets to throw the most important punch in history; the Mona Lisa gets stolen and then found half a dozen times over; and there’s even a cameo from John Cleese.

Doctor Who had become downright daft during the late 1970s. City of Death gets a bit silly too, but it’s all done with such joie de vivre, it works.

The Crusade

Reg Hardware retro numbers

Historical stories were a key part of Doctor Who’s early years and the product of the production team’s brief to make use of the Tardis’ ability to travel in time as well as space. Of course, it quickly became clear that kids really wanted the sci-fi stuff not the often dry purely historical episodes.

Over time, Doctor Who production teams attempted to make the historicals more interesting, most commonly by doing them as comedies, but eventually they got knocked on the head after Patrick Troughton story The Highlanders in 1967. 1982’s Black Orchid was a once only attempt to try the format out. There have been none since. Yes, the Doctor travels into Earth’s past, but it’s always just another exotic backdrop to the SF.

Doctor Who: The Crusade

Lionheart: William Hartnell and Julian Glover as the first Doctor and Richard I
Source: BBC

But if the pure historical format failed, that doesn’t mean there weren’t some gems among them. Undoubtedly the best is The Crusade, set in the Holy Land between the rival armies of Richard the Lionheart and Saladdin. The strength of David Whitaker’s script lies in its maturity. It treats both sides equally - this is no comic strip conflict between heroic Anglos and shifty Arabs.

It also puts the female characters on more even footing with the male ones. Jean Marsh’s Joanna, Richard I’s sister, chafes at the role life as royal has thrust upon her, and Tardis traveller Barbara gets the rough end of the stick at the hands of the nasty Emir El Akir.

Unfortunately, the BBC wiped The Crusade master tape many years ago, and only two episodes have been discovered and returned to the archive. But the soundtrack exists in its entirety. If you’re after something to watch as well as listen to, The Aztecs is another of the better historicals. It nicely combines a splendidly villainous John Ringham channelling Lawrence Olivier as chief priest Tlotoxl with a serious consideration of the impact of travelling in time and messing about with history.

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Next page: The Daleks

More from The Register

next story
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Leaked pics show EMBIGGENED iPhone 6 screen
Fat-fingered fanbois rejoice over Chinternet snaps
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Rounded corners? Pah! Amazon's '3D phone has eye-tracking tech'
Now THAT'S what we call a proper new feature
Leaked photos may indicate slimmer next-generation iPad
Will iPad Air evolve into iPad Helium?
Feast your PUNY eyes on highest resolution phone display EVER
Too much pixel dust for your strained eyeballs to handle
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
US mobile firms cave on kill switch, agree to install anti-theft code
Slow and kludgy rollout will protect corporate profits
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.